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June date set for “Harbor Splash” swim in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor

Yes, it really happens. In about a month there will be an organized dive in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

For years, the idea of ​​swimming in Baltimore Harbor was seen more as a punchline than a real possibility. But thanks to ongoing efforts to reduce runoff, sewage pollution and litter from upstream city neighborhoods, water managers have found that parts of the harbor are safe for swimming for much of the year.

To celebrate progress and rally support for future efforts, the city of Baltimore announced it would soon host a “Harbor Splash” swim – right in the harbor. The idea has certainly raised eyebrows, and this week the city’s Waterfront Partnership announced that the Harbor Splash will take place on Sunday, June 23, 2024.

Up to 125 people aged 18 and over can register to participate in the organised, timed jump. The first Harbor Splash participants to jump in will be Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, Maryland Comptroller Brookie Lierman and other key partners, diving straight in from a floating dock at Bond Street Wharf in Fells Point.

Ultimate Watersports, a paddle sports and events company in the Baltimore area, will serve as event organizers. The company is embracing a cleaner Port of Baltimore by opening its first Inner Harbor location, at Living Classrooms in Harbor East.

There will be five timed “splash” sessions after state and local leaders begin at 9:20 a.m. Because the 125 available spots may be used up quickly, Waterfront Partnership will open registrations on May 29 only to subscribers of the Harbor Splash mailing list. You can sign up at HarborSplash.org.

The ability to construct the Harbor Splash is a victory for Waterfront Partnership’s Healthy Harbor Initiative, founded in 2010 to combat the harbor’s polluted and polluted condition. It set a goal of achieving a “swimmable, fishable” Baltimore harbor. Partners including nonprofits, educational institutions, local government, business leaders, citizen volunteers and a popular family of trash wheels worked to bring the goal within reach. 14 years later the harbor is swimmable (under supervision).

Some people may greet the news of a swimmable Inner Harbor with skepticism, and that’s understandable now that Baltimore’s rivers and harbor have been neglected for generations, says Adam Lindquist, vice president of Waterfront Partnership.

But the city has since prioritized water quality, pledging in 2017 to invest more than $1 billion in sewer infrastructure repairs. Lawmakers have also prioritized environmental legislation and Blue Water Baltimore has conducted extensive water monitoring. The city says sanitary sewer overflows have been reduced by 76 percent in the past five years. The waste wheels have helped remove five million kilos of litter from the water.

“We know our work is far from over, but we have to start swimming. It is a commitment to continue working to ensure our ecosystem thrives and harbor swimming becomes a routine affair,” said Michael Hankin, president and CEO of Brown Advisory and chairman of Waterfront Partnership’s Healthy Harbor Initiative. “We had an ambitious goal and with a lot of hard work and people believing we could achieve it; we are finally realizing our vision.”

Once a successful Harbor Splash happens, will we see people bringing their inner tubes and fins to the waterfront Promenade for a dip? Not so fast. Waterfront Partnership says that because water quality can be affected by wet weather and due to concerns about the safety of boat traffic, people are only recommended to swim as part of planned events such as ‘Harbor Splash’.

But Lindquist says Waterfront Partnership has loftier goals for the future. “We want to see other events in the harbour, such as triathlons, marathon swimming and stand-up paddleboard races. One day we might even have a beach.”